JUSTIN TRUDEAU GAVE EZRA LEVANT AND THE FAILING SUN TV NETWORK WHAT IT WANTED WITH HIS REACTION TO THEIR INSULTS LAST WEEK
I totally sympathize with Justin Trudeau’s recent decision to boycott Sun Media over Sean Hannity wannabe Ezra Levant’s recent tirade against both him and his family. Last week Ezra Levant, Sun Media’s resident radical right wing nut job, threw a five-minute temper tantrum on his Sun Media TV show The Source about Trudeau’s recent photo bombing of a wedding picture where he planted a kiss on the bride’s cheek (turns out he’d actually been invited by the wedding party and got the groom’s OK before the peck in question) and referred to Justin’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre (you may have heard of him) as a “slut” and claimed his mother, Margaret who suffers from bi-polar disorder, rarely “wore panties” and was pretty much the same. After a week of patting Levant on the back and making excuses for the “editorialist,” Sun Media posted an apology yesterday on its website. Levant said nothing during his show.
Make no mistake; if someone who’d been forced to apologize on his show for racist remarks (as Levant has) called my father a slut and implied my mother was the same, I’d be pretty pissed. In fact, the first conversation I’d be tempted to have with such a defective individual would with my fists as I played his rib cage like a piano keyboard. So the fact that Trudeau said he simply wouldn’t talk to Sun Media’s English outlets until parent company Quebecor (recently run by enthusiastic separatist Pierre Karl Peladeau) addressed the issue or Levant apologized is probably a little more civil then my initial reaction would have been. But that doesn’t change the fact that his decision to boycott an entire national news organization was wrong, but for different reasons than have been observed by just about everyone else.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a Justin Trudeau fan and while most of my personal politics are progressive, I am not a card-carrying member of any political party (I still have no idea what Trudeau’s stance on most policies are, outside of supporting legalized marijuana). I haven’t voted for any of Canada’s “Big 3” parties, either federally or provincially, for the past ten years, preferring independent candidates instead. I steadfastly believe that a free press is a healthy democracy’s immune system against tyranny, meaning I disagree with Trudeau on principle alone. And I’ll also contend that the Sun newspapers, which operate daily tabloids in Ottawa, Toronto and other major markets across Canada, are vastly different from Sun Media’s televised arm; the Sun News channel seems little more then far-right, big business loving, anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-immigrant propaganda that quite frankly gives Conservatives a bad name (which is probably why their ratings are so anemic). It also bears mentioning that the people denouncing Trudeau for his decision to shun Sun Media were in full support of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford when they decided to be very selective about which press they spoke to, usually favouring Conservative leaning outlets (in Ford’s case, there was a brief period when he would only speak to the Toronto Sun).
This isn’t the first time Levant has been in trouble or that Sun Media has had to apologize for his overzealous mouth and defective brain. Last year he was forced to apologize to Romanian Canadians for racist remarks he made about them on air. Levant’s apology came six months after the offensive remark, only after his arm had been twisted by a team of Sun Media lawyers (a CRTC hearing on their application for mandatory carriage was looming) and his pseudo-apology was about as genuine as the proverbial three dollar bill. The fact of the matter is Levant is a grade A, class one ass hole. Sun TV tries hard to be Canada’s version of Fox News and Levant works his little heart out to be the Great White North’s Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck, not realizing that Canadians, for the most part, don’t have the same appetite for hate and fear mongering as Americans.
Both Levant and Sun Media TV are usually beneath comment. The controversial little news channel averages 7900 viewers despite reaching over 5.1 million Canadian homes. And while they’re constantly preaching that free markets are infallible, they begged the CRTC for mandatory coverage in 2013, meaning they’d be included in most Canadian providers basic cable packages (at an additional cost to the consumer). In August of last year, the CRTC rejected Sun Media’s application as it continues to move closer and closer to a pick and pay format for Canadian cable subscribers. Sun Media, launched by Quebecor in 2011, loses around 17 million dollars a year and admits it can’t sell advertising. Despite constant railing against CBC’s billion-dollar annual subsidy (an argument I’ll admit has some merits), Sun Media has hypocritically collected millions in government subsidies (some claiming as much as 500 million, though I’m a tad suspicious of that stratospheric figure). Even videos of Levant bashing Trudeau (and just about everything else) receive almost no views on YouTube, the only exceeding 1000 hits is the one where he’s being grilled by the Human Rights Commission. To sum up, despite having the promotional support of dozens of newspapers across Canada, in both French and English, Sun Media’s News channel is failing. And that’s the point.
The reason Trudeau (or anyone else for that matter) is wrong to boycott Sun Media is because it gives the dying network exactly what it desperately needs; publicity. Levant is a spoiled little child throwing a temper tantrum, hoping and praying it gets him a few more precious viewers in a country that is largely ignoring him and his employers. A few days ago most Canadians had no idea who Ezra Levant was, or that Sun Media had a news channel (reflected by their toilet dwelling ratings). But now that’s changed. Sun Media’s fan base is eating it up and the company has labeled Levant and “editorialist” instead of an actual journalist, and that he doesn’t reflect the diverse collection of individuals working under the Sun Media banner (though until yesterdays online exclusive apology, no one at Sun Media called Levant out or said his tantrum crossed the line). No, if I were Trudeau, I would have handled it a bit differently. I’d have come out swinging, mentioning the times Levant found himself under the scrutiny of the CRTC for his racism. I’d point out that Sun Media and Levant are watched by just about no one, pointing out that the channel was bleeding money as a result. I would have brought up the fact that while Sun Media likes to claim that it reaches millions of people a day (a bogus number; the combined daily circulation of their seven biggest newspapers is around 650,000 and as we’ve seen, there is a severe scarcity of eyeballs seeking out their television channel), what they don’t like to talk about is that their newspaper readership is slowly eroding and ad revenue continues to drop year after year. I’d wonder (out loud of course) how much of their declining circulation depends on the bikini clad “Sunshine Girl” in the Sports section or the ads for “Adult” services in their classifieds despite the fact that so many of Sun Media’s talking heads like to champion family values. I’d ask Ezra directly what it was like working for the country’s biggest separatist.
Then I’d challenge him to a fight.
A charity match where proceeds go to the cause of the victor’s choice, similar to the boxing match Trudeau had-and won-against former Conservative Senator, current strip club day manager and future inmate Patrick Brazeau in 2012. I’d even offer Sun Media TV the exclusive broadcast rights for the match (they aired his bout with Brazeau) which would easily be the highest rated program in the failing little channels’ brief history. And then I’d sit back and quietly let those around me mock Levant’s inevitable cowardice (if there’s one thing I can smell, it’s cowardice and Ezra reeks of it, even through a TV screen). In essence, I would deny Levant and Sun Media the attention they so desperately need and crave and serve them up a healthy dose of humiliation, because if you can’t finish what you start, you deserve nothing else.